Sunday, February 5, 2012

Exorcism (1979)


Eurociné, a name that can induce fear in even the most hardcore sleaze collector - mostly because the extremely uneven quality and movies that often dares to be so boring that it's hard to understand without having seen them. It takes some time to get used to their slow pace, cheap sets and non-existent scripts - some once in while they strike gold and Exorcism is one of those surprisingly complex and interesting projects. Without a doubt one of the most personal movies Jess Franco ever made, so personal it could be a double bill together with Bo-Arne Vibenius 1975 classic Breaking Point, a movie that shares a similar gritty and nasty atmosphere. But where Andreas Bellis Bob Bellings just is an office rat who goes over the boarder of insanity, Jess Franco's adult author Mathis Vogel has been there for a very long time...

Bored upper class is enjoying a simulated black mass including a human sacrifice. Something for the rich and famous to tickle their boring lives and hopefully tickle their sex-lives even more. But in the background the defrocked priest and now adult author Mathis Vogel (Uncle Jess himself) is slithering around taking detailed notes about the masses. He's still a strong believer and wants to save these poor women from Satan - and the only way to do it is to slaughter them as a sacrifice to God!

When I first saw Exorcism many years ago I found it to be a cheap-looking and sloppily made soft porn thriller - and it still is! But now the flat cinematography and cheap lightning actually gives the story an aura of even more sleaziness, a realistic tour de force for Mr Franco and his woman, Lina Romay. In almost every Franco-review I write I always comes back to the fact that Franco is a great storyteller, especially if there's a story he cares about and then it doesn't matter at all of the budget is ultra-low or the sets is falling apart in the background. In Exorcism he uses the backstreets of Paris, old basements, run-down hotel corridors like very few others. It's hardly beautiful and the focus is, in many cases, somewhere else than on the main goal - but the story works and Franco, who never been a brilliant actor - but very special, fits perfectly in his tightly buttoned coat and sleazy haircut.

The hook in Exorcism isn't really the serial killer story, which is very well-made and nasty, but the look into the minds of the bourgeois who's tired of their pathetic lives and seeks excitement in live sex-shows with blood and S&M. The movie starts with one of those shows, but we're not told directly and when we start to understand that it's just a show we're also understanding that we're in the same boat as the bored rich - we seek pleasure, but Franco tells is it just fake and he wants to tell us the real story behind it all - the madness of Christianity.

I understand that Exorcism isn't for everyone, but if you can look beyond the exploitation you'll find a very interesting serial killer drama, a showdown from Franco's point of view with the people he most of all like to poke fun at: the fakes and hypocrites, the cowards who chooses the simulated dramas instead of the real deal.

2 comments:

CiNEZiLLA said...

I love Exorcism, it's a grand piece of trash.

J.

Wes M said...

Great review. I almost picked up the Synapse disc a few weeks ago (during a sale on Synapse titles) but skipped it (instead, finishing off my Schoolgirl Report collection). Damn, I wish I had grabbed it now. Next time for sure after reading this post...